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I'm building the brand for a web development company, and I'm using Latin for the name and slogan. However, as I am not familiar with the language, I would like some help clarifying meanings to avoid ending up like a failed tattoo.

Lux Astrum — Perfectiō jacet inter astra

Which, according to my research so far, translates to

Bright Star — Perfection lies between the stars

Now, I know lux can also translate to light, which is kinda redundant for a star, but at the same time I understand words can have different meanings.

The more pressing matter however, is the usage of a diacritic (macron) on the o. I've found it in various places used like that, but I've also found it without it.

The question therefore is: Is the phrase in the first blockquote correctly translated in the second one? Can Lux Astrum translate to Bright Star and is perfectiō an acceptable written form of the word perfection?

The reason for using Latin, as well as more details about the company are out of scope. I'm only interested in the validity of the name and slogan.

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Latin doesn't have a single standardized orthography. The spelling "perfectio" is a fine way to write the Latin word for "perfection". In fact, a number of people would prefer "perfectio" over "perfectiō".

I would not recommend using a macron in a slogan, especially since you are also spelling the word jacet with the letter J. This isn't incorrect from a traditional standpoint, but the use of the letter J has fallen out of favor (for rather silly, pedantic reasons in my opinion) in written Latin text in recent years, so a modern Latinist would be more likely to write iacet. (By now this preference, like most preferences about Latin orthography, seems to be mostly just based on what people are used to, but as far as I can tell the original motivation for eliminating J from modern Latin orthography was just the argument that the Romans didn't distinguish J from I in writing, so we shouldn't either. I think I've also seen some people argue that it's better to not use J because English-speakers associate the letter with the sound /dʒ/, and in the restored pronunciation of Latin you're supposed to use the sound /j/. I think these are both pretty weak arguments though.)

Macrons are used in running text in certain educational texts, as they provide information about pronunciation that may be considered useful for a student of Latin, but they aren't considered a standard, required feature of Latin writing. In fact, some people dislike the look of text with macrons. (As with the preference for never using J, this is probably based mainly on what people are used to, but some people try to justify their preference for text without macrons by implying that macrons are "crutches" that supposedly inhibit the development of a Latin student's ability to read text without macrons: I don't find this objection particularly convincing.) Many reference materials such as dictionaries use macrons (sometimes alongside breves, sometimes just alongside unmarked vowel letters) to indicate some information about the pronunciation of words: the fact that a word is spelled in a dictionary with a macron doesn't mean that it has to be written with a macron in running text.

Since your slogan is not any kind of educational text, there isn't much point to using a macron to mark the long vowel. Not many of the people who are going to be seeing it will even know what the mark is meant to indicate. For comparison, Latin heraldic mottos are not traditionally written with macrons.

You can see some comments/discussion about (mostly Anglophone) preferences for Latin orthography at the following forum thread: unfortunately, the results of the mentioned survey were mostly presented in the form of images that now seem to be lost. Survey of Latin orthography preferences

I'm not qualified to comment on the accuracy of the translation, but I will just say that I don't understand the grammatical structure of "Lux Astrum". You say "I know lux can also translate to light"; actually, the translation of lux as light is the only one that I am familiar with. I hadn't heard before that it could be used to mean "bright", and I'm having trouble finding a resource that supports that idea.

  • First of all thank you for the lengthy answer, great information and links. Your comments on ō being used for dictionaries aligns with the information that prompted me to investigate my choice of translation. I'm leaning towards accepting the fact that although it is not completely wrong it should be changed to perfectio. I had no idea about jacet/iacet; from what you write I'm understanding I "should" use iacet. As far as lux translating to bright, I'm basing it on Google Translate which - while not being flawless - is the only proper translator I could think of. – GregKos Mar 31 '18 at 21:23
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    @GregKos I cannot emphasize how strongly I urge to dismiss any insight given by Google Translate when it comes to any kind of business decision. It is horrible with Latin. Lux is a noun meaning "light", and I don't think it can be used as an adjective. Use of macrons is often restricted to teaching Latin and is often (for whatever reason) considered lower form than a text free of them. For a motto I would leave macrons out unless there is something specific to communicate with them. – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 31 '18 at 21:30
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    @ both, I completely agree that Google Translate has serious issues, but I couldn't really find any proper online translating services and I didn't realize there was an SE community for this until now :) – GregKos Mar 31 '18 at 21:41
  • @sumelic I have no problem with the extra work, but my relative knowledge is so limited that it is not always easy to turn a dictionary entry into the correct form grammatically and syntactically. – GregKos Apr 1 '18 at 15:53
  • I will accept this as an answer because it better fits the question in the title, and will proceed to ask a new question specifically for the name. Thank you both (cc: @JoonasIlmavirta ) – GregKos Apr 2 '18 at 16:20
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Since sumelic gave a good description of spelling conventions, let me focus on translation alone.

I don't quite understand how lux astrum is supposed to work. The only way I can make sense of it is that astrum is the plural genitive (longer form astrorum) and the name means "light of stars". This isn't a bad phrase or name, but it's not "bright star". If you want to go with this name, I suggest the form astrorum, as it will be easier to parse correctly. After all, I hope you are still trying to communicate something with the name, no matter how few people actually understand Latin.

Lux is a good word for light, especially the light of a star. From this noun (not an adjective) is derived the verb lucere, "to shine", and its participle lucens, "shining". This lucens is a good adjective for "bright" when referring to a star.

There are a number of words for a star. Sidus, stella, and astrum come to mind. Your choice of astrum is a fine one. If you want to compare the nuances, I recommend checking these (and possibly other) words in a Latin dictionary of your choice.

So, astrum lucens would be my recommendation for "bright star". How does this sound? I know that appearance is important in addition to meaning when it comes to names, so your word matters.

For "Perfection lies between the stars", I think your translation Perfectio inter astra iacet is good. I made three small modifications: Spelling iacet instead of jacet, losing the macron, and putting the verb to the end. All of this is optional, but it makes it look more appropriate in my eyes.

If you want to go with lux astrum or something similar, I recommend caution. The form astrum as a plural genitive is prone to misinterpretation. Especially some who have studied Latin are likely to mock it as a grammatical error, as the short form of the first and second declension plural genitive ending is not that well known. If people read astrum as singular (as was my first thought), lux astrum does not make sense. Therefore I recommend changing it to lux astrorum ("light of stars") or lux astri ("light of star").

  • The "light of stars" works with my branding, because the idea is products being stars while also being perfect solutions for the customers. Would it be a generally acceptable translation? As you mentioned, most people wouldn't understand by themselves, but if they go "hey, what does that mean" to their more Latin-educated friends I wouldn't want them to go "lol that's just wrong". I'm more open to different interpretations of Lux Astrum than changing the words themselves. – GregKos Mar 31 '18 at 21:39
  • Sad news for any material created so far then :( Although a 36.3k rep is an indicator the matter should end here, I'd like to wait a bit more for any other input on interpretations. Thank you for the alternate suggestions though! – GregKos Apr 1 '18 at 15:56
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    @GregKos I incorporated my previous comment into my answer. It's always good to get a second opinion on the matter. If you want to be sure, you can always ask a separate follow-up question about using lux astrum (as opposed to lux astrorum/astri) as a name. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 1 '18 at 16:28

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